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Thursday , 6 June 2024

Freedom from poverty and corruption

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Rado Gatchalian
Rado Gatchalian
Rado Gatchalian is a social thinker, writer, poet, content producer, and community leader, known in the Filipino community as “The FILOsopher.” A passionate Rizalist, currently the Eastern Australia Area Deputy Commander of the Order of the Knights of Rizal – ANZO Region, and described as a scholar of Rizal by the Philippine Consulate General Sydney.

Year after year every 12th of June, we commemorate our so-called independence from imperial Spain. We take pride as we remember our Philippine flag took its grandest glory at Kawit, Cavite. It was in 1898. Now in 2024 after more than a century, as we take a deeper look at who we are as a country and as Filipinos, we reflect once again on a perennial question: “Are we really free?”

We have witnessed the highs and lows of our history; a few, we celebrate, the rest, we regret. Past is past and we always say, “Just move on.” We always want to console our frustration by asserting that we learn from history, from our past. Again, a perennial question arises, “Have we really learned?”

These two critical questions underlie fundamental truths that (1) liberty and education are mutually cohesive with each other; (2) to be free one should be enlightened; and (3) freedom is only guaranteed when one is willing to learn.

This triad of social concepts encapsulates the core reason why our country remains poor and corrupt. Because we have never learned. Or worse, we refuse to learn. 

For decades we have lost hope. We feel there is nothing we can do for our country. Yes, we are “free”, but we remain poor. And for how long? That is the biggest question. Until when will our country suffer? Will we get the chance to wake up one morning and see our precious land a prosperous country where Filipinos no longer need to live and work abroad? Sadly, many of us will die without witnessing the greatness of our nation. 

The Philippines needs a rebirth

We need to be born again with a new breed of passionate people who have great vision and dreams for our country, who are incorruptible and brave enough to change the status quo, whose objective is to selflessly serve the people, and who are competent to lead.

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As we celebrate the independence of our country, we know, but we deny, that we are not truly free. It is a dishonest celebration we do every year. We can never genuinely celebrate it with glee and pride as we see our country poor and corrupt. 

Do we lack visionary leaders who can make our country better? I am no longer sure how to answer this question as I always hear patriotic sentiments that we Filipinos are superbly intelligent. Are we really that smart yet our leaders could not even envision and provide bridges that will connect Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao?

Perhaps the answer is that we have never learned. Sadly, we even use our “state of poverty” as an excuse to be accomplices of corruption and incompetence. But how can we blame our poor Filipinos who sell their votes when stomachs are more vital than morals for survival? Like a malignant disease, we recycle incompetent and corrupt leaders. Thus, we should never be surprised why year after year our country remains poor. From here we can say that the cure is to educate our people. To end this cycle of poverty, it requires our people to acquire quality education.

Ultimately, when we realise that our fundamental duty is to love our country, we will strive to exert every effort to become morally brave and wise so that we can live and serve better. When we become better Filipinos, we can help the Philippines to become a better country. 

Let’s fight corruption! Let’s fight poverty! Then, when we succeed in this battle, we can all celebrate our Philippine Independence Day with genuine joy and pride.

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